Are You at Risk of Developing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Are You at Risk of Developing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Peripheral artery disease or PAD is a fairly common, but serious medical condition that can happen as you age, and can ultimately result in a stroke or heart attack. In fact, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health if you suffer from PAD you are 6-7 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke or develop coronary artery disease than the general population.

An estimated 6.5 million Americans aged 40 and older have PAD, although the number of people with peripheral artery disease may be closer to 8-12 million since the condition is often under-diagnosed and undertreated as not all patients have symptoms. 

Dr. Hadi Shalhoub, our board-certified vascular and general surgeon here Advanced Vascular Solutions in Sebastian, Florida, shares his insights on the risk factors of PAD so that you can stay on top of your overall health.

Peripheral artery disease explained

Peripheral artery disease comes down to healthy blood flow. It’s a circulation issue that essentially prevents sufficient blood flow to your limbs. In order for your body to operate optimally and to heal when needed, the cells in your body require nourishment in the form of oxygenated blood.

When you suffer from PAD, plaque or fatty deposits build up in your vessel walls, which eventually narrow or even block the channel, which makes it difficult for your blood to flow properly. 

Symptoms of PAD include:

Remarkably, about 4 out of 10 people with PAD don’t have any symptoms at all, making it crucial to know if you’re at risk for developing this potentially life-threatening condition.

Risk factors

Let’s take a look at what can make you more susceptible to developing PAD.

Genetics and family history

Like many medical conditions, genetics plays a role in your risk factors. If PAD, cardiovascular disease, or stroke run in your family, you’re at a higher risk of developing PAD. That’s why it’s important to learn your family medical history. Knowing what diseases and issues you may be predisposed to can literally save your life.

Use of tobacco products

Keep in mind that even if a condition runs in your family, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop it. There are often many things within your control that can make it less likely for you to develop a disease.

Case in point – using tobacco products.

When it comes to PAD, smoking or using tobacco products increases your risk by 400%. But the implications for tobacco users don’t stop there. Tobacco users typically experience PAD symptoms about 10 years earlier than non-tobacco users. Unfortunately, they’re also much more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack and are twice as likely to suffer a leg amputation.

Having diabetes

Diabetes also bumps up your risk factor for developing PAD. As you may know, one of the complications of high blood sugar is damaged blood vessels, which essentially sets up the same perfect storm as PAD does. 

Specifically, when you have diabetes, you’re two times more likely to suffer a stroke or develop heart disease than the general population.

Having high blood pressure and high cholesterol

Not surprisingly, if you allow your high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels to remain unmanaged, you can put yourself at a high risk for developing PAD.

The good news is — you can play a large role in managing these risk factors. Most are within your control 

When you come in to see us at Advanced Vascular Solutions, Dr. Shalhoub and our medical team address these issues and help reduce your risk for developing PAD, which can also enhance your overall health.

If you’re experiencing leg pain or have concerns about your risk for developing PAD, call our friendly office staff, or click the “book online” button to schedule a consultation or an evaluation today.

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